Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Grammar Lesson: Verb Tenses, Part I

Knowing your verb tenses will help you write your memoirs.
Grammar Lesson: Verb Tenses, Part I
When our Write My Memoirs members hire us to edit their memoirs, we notice that verb tenses seem to be a tough grammar hurdle that trips up many writers. So let’s tackle these tricky little verbs one tense at a time. I’ll devote as many blog posts as it takes, starting with today.
When we list the forms of a verb, typically we list three tenses: present tense, past tense and past participle. The last one—the past participle—is the most problematic. To illustrate the three tenses of the regular verb to help, you would list: help (present tense); helped (past tense); and helped (past participle). In practice, this goes: today I help the customer; yesterday I helped the customer; over the past week I have helped many customers. You can see that the past participle takes a helping verb like have. For regular verbs, the past participle is the same as the past tense—in this case, both are helped.
However, there are many irregular verbs. Let’s try to take: today I take my temperature; yesterday I took my temperature; I have taken my temperature many times this week. In that irregular example, took is past tense, but taken is the past participle. To run also is irregular: today I run; yesterday I ran; I have run five times this week. That’s an unusual case, because the past participle run is the same as the present tense, first person. Keep in mind, though, that “person” presents another variable that can change the present tense, but the past participle remains the same. With to run, the past participle remains run when we change the example from first person to third person: today he runs; yesterday he ran; he has run five times this week.
Practice on other verbs until we dig into this again next time!

When our Write My Memoirs members hire us to edit their memoirs, we notice that verb tenses seem to be a tough grammar hurdle that trips up many writers. So let’s tackle these tricky little verbs one tense at a time. I’ll devote as many blog posts as it takes, starting with today.

When we list the forms of a verb, typically we list two tenses—present tense and past tense—plus the past participle, which is a component of the remaining tenses and is the most problematic.  The last one—the past participle—is the most problematic. To illustrate the three tenses of the regular verb to help, you would list: help (present tense); helped (past tense); and helped (past participle). In practice, this goes: today I help the customer; yesterday I helped the customer; over the past week I have helped many customers. You can see that the past participle takes a helping verb like have. For regular verbs, the past participle is the same as the past tense—in this case, both are helped.

However, there are many irregular verbs. Let’s try to take: today I take my temperature; yesterday I took my temperature; I have taken my temperature many times this week. In that irregular example, took is past tense, but taken is the past participle. To run also is irregular: today I run; yesterday I ran; I have run five times this week. That’s an unusual case, because the past participle run is the same as the present tense, first person. Keep in mind, though, that “person” presents another variable that can change the present tense, but the past participle remains the same. With to run, the past participle remains run when we change the example from first person (I) to third person (he/she): today he runs; yesterday he ran; he has run five times this week.

Practice on other verbs until we dig into this again next time!

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Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!